When I see grammatically incorrect public signage, I cringe. One of my readers wigs out when he spots incorrect public math.
Bob: I have been a math teacher for the past 38 years. In addition to teaching in the public schools for 35 years [at Aurora], I have also taught math at Kent State University and Hiram College for the past 30 years.
You are obviously a very talented writer and columnist, but I would like to give you a chance to be what you always really wanted to be: a math teacher — and to correct a wrong at the same time.
For some reason, those in charge of statistics in Major League Baseball, and at Progressive Field in particular, do not seem to know how to accurately change a number from a decimal to a percent or from a percent to a decimal.
I have written to the Indians to let them know of their mistake, but they have not responded. So, I thought you could combine your love of writing and your love of math to help not only Major League Baseball but math students across the area.
Every time a player comes to bat at Progressive Field, at least four statistics are posted on that player’s offensive production. One is the batting average, which is always listed correctly — say .295.
Three of those statistics are wrong every time for every player: the on-base percentage stat, the slugging percentage stat and the on-base-plus percentage stat.
I was at a game last week and they listed Michael Brantley as follows:
In each of these stats, if the percent sign is used, the numbers should be 36.4, 46.5 and 82.9. If Michael’s on-base percentage is truly .364, that means he is getting on base significantly less than 1 percent of the time and probably would not be on the Indians very long.
There is certainly an easy way to fix this. They could simply change “percentage” in each case to “average,” and then it would be correct.
As this school year ends, many students will be flocking to Progressive Field to enjoy some summer baseball. Since your second love was to be a math teacher, imagine all the students you can help if this can be corrected — and how proud your former math teachers at West G will be of you!
Ted: In the unlikely event that any of my old math teachers at West Geauga High School are still walking the earth, nothing I could do at this point would make them proud of my math skills. I torched that bridge as soon as I attempted (not very doggedly) to figure out trigonometry.
But I am viewed a bit more favorably (at least most of the time) by folks who work for the Cleveland Indians — including the legendary Bob DiBiasio, the knower of all things Tribe.
The senior vice president for public affairs has been employed by the team for 39 years, Ted, and during his entire career, he has never fielded a question like yours.
Good work. It’s almost impossible to surprise this guy.
“Interesting!” DiBiasio said Wednesday afternoon. “I will go and ask the question to somebody.”
One of our many hurdles, Ted, is that there’s not enough space to put “AVG” rather than “%,” so the on-base stat would have to appear as OBA.
And the scoreboard software would likely have to be changed — software that comes to the Indians through Major League Baseball, which tries to keep all 30 teams on the same statistical page.
But if we could get through to the MLB folks, Ted, we’d really have something.
“We appreciate him bringing it to our attention,” DiBiasio said. “I’m not sure what we’re going to be able to do about it. But I’m more than happy to share his thoughts with our analytics department. ...
“Please thank him on our behalf for being a fan — and one who enjoys the statistics we provide on our scoreboard.” Well, he enjoys them up to a point.
So, Ted, I suggest we not hold our breath on this. But you never know. The baseball stats and analytics guys are just as fired up about math as you are. And baseball does change.
When I was playing at West G, for example, there was no such thing as an “on-base-plus” stat. And I suspect the word “analytics” was uttered only in the math department.
Not that I’d have known.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He also is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bob.dyer.31